The rules of arbitrarily picking a team

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Ben Roethlisberger - Not pretty

As much as I love my footy (AFL) and cricket, I’m probably almost more of a generic sports nut. Put a sport on TV and within 5 minutes I’ve probably decided who I want to win and why, especially team sports. And with the world series on, the NFL and NBA seasons both underway (and being shown on One HD!), UEFA Champions League being played there are ample opportunities to watch games that you have no earthly reason to get excited about, but for the fact that it’s a competition and just 10 minutes ago you decided you had someone here to cheer for.

With that in mind, I offer you the following rules. These have been tested over many meaningless contests, and while they will likely give you a less than 50% winning ratio in two-horse-races, they do guarantee a vaguely satisfied feeling when you’re recently aquired team happens to sneak the win. Except where otherwise specified, an earlier rule trumps a later rule: ie – Rule 1 is unbreakable, and overrules any later rules,

Rule 1: No “Collingwoods”

Also known as the “No Yankees”, “No Lakers”, “No Manchester Uniteds” rule. You can’t support the team with all the money and all the supporters. There’s no satisfaction in that. There’s no glory. That just makes you a sell out, supporting the team with the most money and the least heart. I broke this rule once: as an 11 year old in a foreign land and opted to support Manchester United out of a self-preservation instinct. To this day I am ashamed at my weakness of spirit. It’s not OK.

Rule 2:  A team that could hurt a “Collingwood”

I can’t emphasise enough how key it is that the “Collingwoods” of this world are brought down. So while this rule is less frequently invoked, it remains the second most important rule. In the event that the result of the game you are watching can have a negative impact on a “Collingwood” as defined in Rule 1, then you ought to barrack the the side who is able to inflict damage to that team. Naturally this only comes into play at the end of a season, or perhaps in a group phase of a cup competition: there’s no point choosing a team just because they’ll go a spot above in the middle of the season. The only other addition to this rule is that when a franchise team has an ugly duckling team in the same geographical area – thou must cheer for them. For that reason, teams such as the LA Clippers, or until recently (when a huge injection of funds rendered them to also be a “Collingwood”) Manchester City should automatically have your support – in order that the bigger brother might be shamed. This does not hold true in the event that the sister team wears purple (eg. Fremantle Dockers, Minnesota Vikings).

Rule 3: The underdog

If there is one thing that is sacred, it is the role of the horrendously unlikely underdog. The best example of this would be in FA Cup finals. Because of the nature of the FA Cup, in some rare circumstances you can have a lower division team who has managed to sneak into the biggest day on the English Football calendar. In that instance it is your duty to cheer your heart out for that team. Hasn’t worked yet. But that’s not to say that this strategy never sees any success, in 2002 the first Superbowl I’ve ever watched saw rank outsiders New England Patriots beat the  St Louis “14 point favourites” Rams, and do it in a last play of the game field goal from quite a decent way out. That allegiance for the underdog gave me the superbowl winner in another two Superbowls since then, as well as a very almost perfect season.

Rule 4:  The “Personal Connection” team

Once you still don’t have a team after adhering to Rules 1, 2 and 3,  you are left with the choice that comes down to somewhat more frivolous matters. Once stopped off in the airport of a team? It’s totally OK to choose that team over the other. Does one team have an Australian player/assistant coach/water boy? That could be your farnarkling team for life. Have a friend that goes for one team – probably best that you go for the other team, lest you be left with nobody to rib over your newly found teams superiority.

But always remember

There is one additional principle that must be held truly sacred: once you have chosen a team, that team must always be held above the team you have not chosen. The endgame is that you might eventually have a clear heirarchy of teams in your mind: for instance watching the NFL post-season I was cheering heartily for the Arizona Cardinals (had Ben Graham in their side) and the Pittsburg Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger is the least pretty boy Quarterback in history) all the way to the Superbowl, and was then forced to make a choice. Suffice to say I was lucky that my dislike for Cardinal’s quarterback Kurt Warner was enough to have me choose the Steelers, and I managed another Superbowl win. But the next time these two teams play, there is no longer a decision to be made: even if Roethlisberger was traded to Arizona for Warner, you have to stick with your decisions.

So there you have it, consider yourself ready to go out into the sporting world and find meaning in otherwise pointless contests. Or if you have any additions/suggestions for the rules, I’d be glad to hear it. Just as long as you don’t barrack for Collingwood.

Justin Langer’s Maths Lesson

The Age’s demographics are obviously slipping. Here they give the cricket tragics a little bit of a Prep Maths lesson:

The West Australian is captain of Somerset and yesterday he struck his 86th first-class century in his 345th first-class game. Bradman played 234 first-class matches. This week’s game will be Langer’s 346th.

via Langer breaks The Don’s 72-year-old record – Cricket – Sport – theage.com.au.

“So kids, if this game is Justin Langer’s 345th game, what will his next one be?” Journalism at its finest.

A Monday morning tantrum

Thought you might enjoy this. Stumbled across this one when I was reading about Mark Webber’s Grand Prix win in Germany. Couldn’t help but think that I know four year old children with more maturity.

Asked what went wrong, he (Barrichello) said: “I guess the strategy… it was a good show from the team on how to lose a race today.

“I’m terribly upset with the way things went. I did all I had to do.

“I went first on the first corner and then they made me lose the race. If it is really what’s going on (favouring Button), we’re going to end up losing both championships.

“I feel sorry for myself, the team. To be very honest, I wish I could get on the plane and go home.

“I don’t want to talk to anyone in the team. It will be all ‘blah, blah, blah,’ and I don’t want to hear that.”

via ABC Sport – Ecstatic Webber finally breaks F1 duck.

What I love about the Olympics

Natalie du Toit carried the flag for South Africa at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games. She wore a prosthetic leg, but few likely noticed. She has long awaited this moment, when she can stop being a disabled swimmer and start being just a swimmer again.

Wednesday, du Toit will participate in the Olympic marathon swim with no lower left leg or prosthetic assistance to help her kick through 6.2 miles of open water, competing as the first female amputee in an able-bodied Olympics.

South Africa’s du Toit fulfills a dream derailed – International Herald Tribune

Just an amazing story, and I know that makes me a sucker, but that can’t be a surprise to many of you. Even South African’s can do inspiring things. And this story just got me:

As Japan’s oldest Olympic competitor in history, Hiroshi Hoketsu says his long experience has taught him one key trait of a good rider: patience.

Hoketsu, who at the age of 67 will become Japan’s oldest Olympic representative when he rides in Thursday’s dressage qualifier, first competed in an Olympics 44 years ago at the 1964 Tokyo Games.
Training a horse requires first getting inside their minds, Hoketsu said.
“You have to understand them, rather than ask them to understand you. You need to understand what kind of situation they are in and what you can ask of them,” he said.
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Oh, no! Now everyone knows what’s going to happen!

South Korean television footage shot at a dress rehearsal this week breached the secrecy surrounding the Beijing Olympic Games’ opening ceremony and offered a first glimpse of the elaborate production.

Spoiler alert: Viewers can expect a dramatic countdown, giant whales, an illuminated globe and performers flying above the audience.

Secret’s out about opening ceremony of Beijing Games – International Herald Tribune

Did anybody else hear about this and think that this is possibly the poorest attempt at a spoiler in the history of the world? A big countdown. Giant whales. An illuminated globe and performers that fly around the stadium. What is it, some kind of opening ceremony?

Olympics force time change | Herald Sun

THE Round 19 Geelong-Melbourne clash will begin five minutes earlier to allow Channel Seven to show the Olympics’ opening ceremony.

The start time for the match, which will be played at the MCG on Friday August 8, has been brought forward five minutes to 7.05pm.

At first Channel Seven was going to just leave it be, but recent results have suggested that the first five minutes could be the only time the match remains competitive.

Olympics force time change | Herald Sun.

Good news for the faithful and faithless alike

For those of you who skip over the Richmond related posts, help is at hand. And for those of you who only visit in the hope that I’ve written something about our fearsome yellow and black warriors, I can help you too! I’ve decided that the next adventure in my blogging career is to quarantine off the Richmond related posts over to “The Wounded Tiger” – thewoundedtiger.com

From the about page:

The Wounded Tiger is the heartbroken lament of a Richmond supporter who has undergone far too much trauma with his team to ever give them up.

I’m mostly doing it because a) I saw a cheap deal on domain names, and b) most of my Google traffic is for Richmond related content, and I couldn’t handle forcing people who have come to find out about Richo and Browny instead looking at wedding video and theology. So tell all your yellow and black friends: thewoundedtiger.com

The Stupidity of Eagles

Purple-hearted Mark will love me for picking a fight with his arch-enemies the wee-girls, but when I read this on The Age (stolen from the West Australian) I couldn’t let it pass without comment:

“WEST COAST chief executive Trevor Nisbett has accepted responsibility for the scandals that have rocked the club but defended his job and said calls for his sacking were naive because no single person could change the player culture at a football club.”

So it’s naive to suggest that you should remove a significant part of any problem, because it doesn’t make up the whole problem. Nisbett is right though – no one person is able to change the culture of the football club, and so as a result the entire management of the club should resign if they are serious about changing the culture.